For over seven years, I suffered from an extreme domestic violence situation. It started out as emotional, then financial, and then physical. Domestic violence does not know race, status, education, or anything, and it can happen to any of us. For years, I suffered from the abuse. Had I not gotten pregnant, I probably would have stayed. But, when I found out, I knew I had to find a way to escape.
I was able to break free from my abusive husband and I fled, across the country, to Washington. I left my job, my friends, everything I had ever known. I had a two year old autistic daughter and little more than the clothes we were wearing. But, I was hopeful for a new start and a safe place for my children.
I stayed temporarily with extended family. I became involved with Step By Step, when the WIC office referred me for support for my pregnancy.
My first case manager was Cheri. She was very understanding with my situation. Together, we sat down and prioritized my needs, which were a lot.
I needed safe housing, medical and prenatal care, and I was struggling with depression. Cheri worked really hard with me, especially trying to get me housing and transportation.
I stayed positive and took an active role in all the changes in my life. I had people who cared about me. When I finally secured a place to stay, Step By Step was able to help refer me to the Furniture Bank, and I was able to get donated furniture for my new place. Then, in July, Step By Step surprised me with a donated car through their Motors 4 Moms program. When my baby girl was born later that month, they helped make sure I had everything that I needed for my baby.
Since I had moved to a new location since my pregnancy, I was connected with a new case manager, Kris, and an Infant Case Manager, Katie, to help me after my baby was born. Katie has been there for my family in everything. Things were going fairly well, but then a disaster happened. I had been living in my apartment less than 7 months, and there was a fire. I lost everything, including my car.
It was Katie, Step By Step’s staff, and some generous donors who rallied together to help. I was very much comforted. They made sure we had emergency food, shelter, and clothing. Katie called me often to provide emotional support to help me get through.
Not long afterwards, I received a very exciting phone call with a job offer with DSHS in Children’s Administration. I had received a Master’s Degree in Social Work, during my time in New York, and I was excited to start a new career and to be able to provide for my family. The first person I called was Katie to tell her the news. I was worried though, because now I didn’t have any office attire!
Katie was so excited for me, and she brought me a whole entire working wardrobe, along with a dresser!
I started working, but I had to rely on buses to get me there. I would wake up at 4:00 am to get ready for the bus, to make it to the job on time, and I would get home late. It took a toll on me and my family. When I got my first paycheck, I went and bought a car so that I could better manage the time, continue nursing my baby, and have some more sleep.
Katie has continued to be in our lives and has become a family member to me. I will never forget Step By Step and all they have done for me. I had the chance to volunteer at their fundraising dinner and auction, and I plan to give back as much as I can, once I settle and stabilize my family.
Life is starting to have a true meaning to me now. I would like to give a special thanks to my three favorite case managers – Cheri, Kris, and Katie. God bless Step By Step, everyone who works there, and all the people who donate to this wonderful, amazing organization!
Step By Step’s 12th annual fundraising dinner and auction this year was held in honor of the matriarch of one family - the Korum Family.
The Korum family has built an incredible business in the Puyallup Valley, over the past 50 years, and they are deeply committed to their community. Their support of Step By Step over many years has been tremendous, but their lead gift in 2015 was transformational.
Germaine’s heart beats for the well being of Women and Children, and I am beyond honored that the new site will be called “The Germaine Korum Center for Women and Children.” To the Korum family, thank you for believing in me and for your incredible generosity.
Learn more about the future
Germaine Korum Center for Women and Children
or e-mail Krista at firstname.lastname@example.org
From Our Executive Director:
Abraham Lincoln said: “All that I am, and hope to be, I owe to my mother.” And yet, amazingly, his mother died when he was only 9. In nine short years, she made an impact that lasted a lifetime and had a son who was one of the greatest presidents of the United States.
My husband often says, “if you have one person who believes in you, then you can move mountains”. If you don’t have that person, especially as a child, you can still move mountains, it’s just a lot, lot harder. Step By Step works with so many people who have never had anyone invest in them.
For nearly 20 years, Step By Step has been sending well-trained, professional, and amazingly compassionate women into the apartments, shelters, and even cars – and, quite frankly, some really scary neighborhoods – where our expectant moms live. We work with about 1500 women a year from South of Olympia to North of Everett. Before our amazing case managers can begin to be proactive with a mom, they have to react to the situations they encounter. They have to react to no food in the fridge, react to a pregnant teenager who has no one to be with her for the birth of her child, react to a boyfriend who is selling drugs out of the house, react to a husband who is a violent drunk, and the list goes on and on. But, like all of us in this room have learned to do, we teach women to take things step by step, to put one foot in front of the other, no matter where they are starting from.
Step By Step is at a pivotal junction. We’ve seen a lot, and we’ve learned a ton over the past 20 years. Having a healthy baby is a critical first step, but being able to provide financially for your child is a critical component to the health of the human spirit, regardless of socio economic status. It is innate for us to want to provide for the needs of those in our care. For many of the women we work with, they don’t know what that looks and feels like, let alone how to emulate it.
So, five years ago, I asked my board if we could buy a farm.
Why a farm? Because, a farm has the intangibles that I think are missing in so many of the lives of the women we serve. To me, a farm is the epitome of hard work, perseverance, reliability, stick-to-it-ness, overcoming hardship, and working together. As someone raised on a farm, and who has many farmers in the family, I wanted to not only preserve this heritage place, that is beloved and a part of so many of the families in a community, but also to revive those intangibles that are felt on a farm, while creating businesses and employing women with young children.
On New Year’s Eve, we bought the farm. In case I made that sound easy, believe me, it wasn’t - at all. Many of you were part of making this next step happen.
Whether you gave to the campaign, gave at the auction, volunteer, or have encouraged us along the way, your investment in us has allowed us to invest in so many women and babies.
Krista Linden, Founder & Executive Director
Meet our Spring Volunteer Champions of the Month!
Patty joined our volunteer team at the perfect moment. We were scrambling to prepare for our big ribbon-cutting ceremony. From creating beautiful ribbon bows, to helping us decorate beautifully, to literally scrubbing toilets, Patty truly helped make everything lovely for the ribbon-cutting event. She is a multi-talented lady, and we are thankful to have her as part of our Step By Step volunteer family!
Dave Teodoro and Ron DeVany
When one person is a member of our Step By Step Volunteer family, oftentimes other members of that volunteer’s family join in alongside. Nancy Teodoro, a regular volunteer at Step By Step, asked her husband and brother if they would be willing to build us some shelves, for our baby supply room. The result was a large set of shelves which are helping us to streamline and organize our donation room for baby items. We are so thankful for their expertise. Thank you Dave and Ron for your time and talents, and for donating all the supplies to make these awesome shelves for us. They are great! We are already plotting our next building project for them!
Some people come into your life, and you don’t know how you ever got along without them beforehand! For us, one of those people is Donna. She started volunteering with us and has completely embraced all we have asked her to do. She takes great care with helping to keep our baby room organized, which is no small feat. She calls it her “labor of love” and it certainly is! Donna, we are so thankful to have you as part of the Step By Step Volunteer Family. Thank you for all that you do for us - we couldn’t do it without you!